Chinese tourism expected to grow

Updated: 2015-01-12 05:16

By Zheng Xin in Beijing(China Daily Latin America)

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Chinese tourism expected to grow

Tourists visit the Christ the Redeemer statue, in Rio de Janeiro June 27, 2014. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Despite not being popular destinations for Chinese tourists, at least so far, Latin American countries stand a great chance of attracting increasing numbers of affluent Chinese for sightseeing and adventures in the near future, according to travel industry watchers.

Spots such as Thailand, the United States, France, Maldives and South Korea are favorites among Chinese tourists, who lead the world in tourism spending. But widely popular destinations like Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries are not as fervently sought by Chinese, said Vivian Hong,president of Travelzoo Lv You Zu.

According to a survey conducted by Travelzoo, Mexico and Brazil are the top destinations among the Latin American countries that Chinese tourists desire to visit.

Many Chinese tourists are especially interested in in-depth tours in those destinations, the survey said.

However, the lack of interest is due mainly to the unavailability of products through the Chinese tour agencies, she said.

"Many destinations in the Latin America, like Cancun in Mexico and Havana in Cuba, see affordable flights and accommodation, as well as breathtaking sceneries," she said.

Added Yang Jinsong, a professor with the China Tourism Academy: "Together with further promotion and marketing of the online tourism agencies, it is believed the destinations, with great potentials, are to see more Chinese tourists in the near future."

According to Liu Simin of the tourism research center at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Latin American countries, attracting increasing numbers of affluent Chinese in recent years, appear ordained to be the next major destinations for many Chinese tourists.

"The affluent Chinese are more than ever enjoying trips to exotic locations less frequently visited by their peers," said Liu. "As more have been abroad for travel and are no longer satisfied with short-haul destinations, places like the Latin American countries will soon become the new favorite for the Chinese, especially the rich."

Liu estimated that after more than 20 years of outbound tourism development, the attractions for Chinese visitors have further expanded, from Hong Kong, Macao, Japan and Korea to the farther destinations including European and American countries.

Many of the 21 countries in Latin America are becoming more than ever popular among Chinese tourists and the number of two-way travelers between China and Latin American nations amounted to 550,000 in 2013.

China and Latin American nations have made huge progress in trade and investment, science and technology, agriculture and people-to-people exchanges in recent years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping set the goal for bilateral trade between China and countries in Latin American and the Caribbean to reach $500 billion in 10 years, with China's direct investment into Latin America set to hit $250 billion in the coming decade.

He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the first ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

The increasing cooperation in various fields is to bring more Chinese tourists to Latin American destinations, said Hong.

Hong said some personally tailored tour products, including helicopter trips, glacier sightseeing, whale and penguin-watching in Patagonia, the Iguazu waterfalls of Argentina and Brazil, and Machu Picchu in Peru, have been well received by Chinese tourists in recent years.

"The Chinese tourists are particularly focused on places in Latin America that are different from the traditional tourism spots and those places of interest in China," she said.

Aeromexico has recently come up with promotional flights from Chinese cities to Mexico, to attract more Chinese tourists to the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area. A roundtrip ticket from Shanghai to Mexico starts at 5,149 yuan.

Mexico's biggest airline announced last year that it will be operating seven weekly flights to and from Asia, promoting Mexico's bilateral relations with Japan and China.

Starting in July it will add its third weekly flight to and from Shanghai, consolidating its position as the only Latin American airline to unite these cities with the capital of Mexico.

For more than seven years, Aeromexico has been the only Latin American airline flying to Asia.

The increase in these new schedules is believed to make it possible to meet the travel demand of the Asian market, and provide some 3,500 seats on a weekly basis for the benefit of all its customers.

In addition to Mexico, Brazil also sent delegations to China to entice travelers to the 2014 football World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

In Buenos Aires, tango shows and steak houses are now also offering menus in Mandarin.

Preferred Hotel Group of Chicago has come up with China friendly services in most of its hotels in the Latin America as well, with menus printed in Mandarin and feature dishes suitable to the Chinese palate.

"Considering the potential millions of Chinese tourists that are bound and eager to travel to an overseas destination, no destination wants to be left out in carving in the big pie," said Yang.